It is almost time for the World Parkinson’s Congress (WPC) in Portland and I’m as giddy as high school girl the night before prom. On top of being an Ambassador for the event, I going to make new friends, eat super yummy food and learn what’s new in the Parkinson’s world…. and I mean world… over 4,000 people from 68 different countries will be attending. But before I skip off to the airport, I need to review my traveling game plan to ensure I get the most out of my trip to Portland.
Here are my tips for traveling to the World Parkinson’s Congress:
– Before packing for your trip, print out this calendar I created and map out your whole trip from start to finish. Don’t forget to add any activities or lectures you want to attend. You can see the WPC’s final program here. Then go through each hour of your trip and think of what you would like to have with you. For example, if you have a busy day, maybe a backpack would be more comfortable or you might want to have a reusable water bottle. My favorite is Takeya thermoflask. It keeps your drink cold all day and doesn’t have a metallic taste. It comes in multiple sizes and bonus… they make it in pink!
Some other things to add to your calendar:
Now that you have a visual map of your trip, write down a list of the items you want to pack.
-Flying usually always sucks…then put PD on top of that and you have a colossal suckfest. Imagine for a minute that your body is stuck in Molasses and you have to get to the gate for your flight. No, you cannot lick the Molasses off…I already attempted that and it doesn’t work. You feel as if you are standing in your underwear in the middle of the airport and everyone is looking at you just fumble around. To prevent this suckfest, keep all your important documents in a folder, this allows you to easily grab your plane ticket.
-Be sure to include medical documents in your folder because going through security with Deep Brain Stimulation can be interesting. I choose not to go through the metal detectors, even though they have the x-ray machines that supposedly don’t impact the stimulators in your chest, I always opt out. I would prefer to watch the TSA squirm, as they have to stop their cattle drive into the metal detector machines just to find a “female assist” who can Wo-manhandle me.
-Sitting on the airplane can also present trouble. Try sitting still smack dab in the middle of two people, like you are the meat in a Parkie sandwich. Now don’t move for at least 3 hours. You might have just taken a little more Sinemet in the morning just to get you through the madness of air travel, which now has caused a Dyskinesia dance. This will take much energy and concentration trying not to kick the person next to you, or shall we say, the “bread” of your Parkie Sandwich. A neck pillow and a good distraction such as a game or movie will help you through the flight.
-You might also want to check with your airline on how they accommodate handicap. I have been moved from a crappy seat to less crappy seat that has more room, just by asking.
-Now to ensure you take your medications on time, keep them in your carry-on bag. Even though there will be many Parkies you could bum a Sinemet pill from, better to keep your stash with you. If you want to be a rock star, bring extra medication with you just in case.
-Getting to your hotel from the airport can present another challenge, so plan ahead if your temporary home offers shuttle service. You can also use public transportation or request a Uber ride.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re going to an event that supports handicapped people. There are many accommodations available. Don’t a namby-pamby and burn out the first day of your trip.
-Although there will be food available, bringing a snack with you will help keep your energy up. And don’t forget to stay hydrated.
-Pace yourself. I know that the program can look a little overwhelming, but be sure to take breaks. Remember that Parkies don’t have that “better slow down before I do too much” meter in our brains. Overdoing it one day, can impact you for multiple days.
-Bringing cards with your contact info to pass out to new friends helps you grow your Wolfpack with ease. Be sure to get one of mine…. I am always accepting new pack members.
-Having a small notebook to keep in your backpack is great for lecture notes or other ideas you want to scribble down.
Now you should be ready for an incredible adventure. My first WPC was so impactful, inspiring and motivating, I am excited to share it with you all. Subscribe to my blog to see the highlights from my Portland adventure. See you all soon!
For more travel tips, check out the WPC’s Travel Toolkit.